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Austin teacher threatens to sic cops on Linux group because "No software is free" - Boing Boing
boingboing said:
An teacher in Austin sent an angry, accusatory email to a local Linux collective ("HeliOS Project, which builds and provides Linux computers to disadvantaged or 'exceptionally promising' students") accusing them of piracy for distributing the free operating system and excoriating them for encouraging her students to do the same. She threatened to have the group's organizer investigated by the police, too.
...observed one of my students with a group of other children gathered around his laptop. Upon looking at his computer, I saw he was giving a demonstration of some sort. The student was showing the ability of the laptop and handing out Linux disks. After confiscating the disks I called a confrence [sic] with the student and that is how I came to discover you and your organization.

Mr. Starks, I am sure you strongly believe in what you are doing but I cannot either support your efforts or allow them to happen in my classroom. At this point, I am not sure what you are doing is legal. No software is free and spreading that misconception is harmful.

These children look up to adults for guidance and discipline. I will research this as time allows and I want to assure you, if you are doing anything illegal, I will pursue charges as the law allows. Mr. Starks, I along with many others tried Linux during college and I assure you, the claims you make are grossly over-stated and hinge on falsehoods. I admire your attempts in getting computers in the hands of disadvantaged people but putting linux on these machines is holding our kids back.

This is a world where Windows runs on virtually every computer, and putting on a carnival show for an operating system is not helping these children at all.
The HeliOS organizer kind of goes off the rails in his response, implying that the teacher's been brainwashed by her union to support Microsoft because they get donations from Microsoft. I think it's more likely that she just doesn't know what the hell she's talking about and has received umpty-million "piracy is terrorism" messages from the school board and the BSA.
I dunno about you, but I was trying things other than Linux in my college years. :lol:
I'm pretty tempted to donate some money to his group now. A Ngemu.com computer for the kids?

Reposted from Democracy Forums
 

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HeliOS's reply:

Karen xxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxx Middle School
AISD

Hmmmm....

I suppose I should, before anything else, thank you. You have given me the opportunity to show others just what a battle we face in what we do. "We" being those who advocate, support and use Free Open Source Software and Linux in particular.

If you find my following words terse or less than cordial, take a breath and prepare yourself...what I have to say to you are soft strokes to your hair in comparison to what you are about to experience.

First off, if there was even the slightest chance that I was doing something illegal, it would not have been done. To think that I would involve my kids in my "illegal" activities is an insult far beyond outrage. You should be ashamed of yourself for putting into print such none sense.

And please...investigate to your heart's content. You are about to have your eyes opened, that is if you actually investigate anything at all. Linux is a free as-in-cost and free as-in-license operating system. It was designed specifically for those purposes. Linux is used to free people from Microsoft. The fact that you seem to believe that Microsoft is the end all and be-all is actually funny in a sad sort of way. Then again, being a good NEA member, you would spout the Union line. Microsoft has pumped tens of millions of dollars into your union. Of course you are going to "recommend" Microsoft Windows". To do otherwise would probably get you reprimanded at the least and fired at the worst. You are only doing what you've been instructed to do.

You've been trained well.

I don't know when you attended college Karen but the Linux of even two years ago pales in feature and ability to what there is available now...and that in turn will pale in a year's time. linux is superior to MS windows in so many ways, they are too numerous to mention here...I am weary of enumerating them. Unlike Microsoft who meters their "improvements" and then shovels them to you every five years or so for purchase; Linux releases their improvements upon their completion. We receive the newest and the best of the system when it is tested to be usable and stable. Karen, you have no idea the slavery you work under...but you don't know any better. The shame of it is, you are trapped with millions of other teachers in obeying the NEA and preaching the goodness of Windows and Microsoft. A superior, free and absolutely entertaining method of operating your computer is within reach and you are unable to grasp it.

The most disturbing part of this resides in the fact that the AISD purchases millions of dollars of Microsoft Software in a year's time when that money could be better spent on educating our children. A dedicated School Teacher would recognize that fact and lobby for the change to Free Open Source Software and let the money formally spent on MS bindware be used on our kids.

A teacher who cared about her students would do that.

That is sad past my ability to express it to you. Don't shackle your students in your prison Karen.

Now. You give that boy his disks back. Aaron is a brilliant kid and he's learned more using Linux than he ever did using Windows. Those disks and their distribution are perfectly legal and even if he was "disruptive", you cannot keep his property. I have placed a call to the AISD Superintendent and cc'd him a complete copy of your email. It looks like we will get to meet in his office when School starts again after the holiday. I am anxious to meet a person who is this uninformed and still holds a position of authority and learnedness over our children.

Ken Starks
HeliOS Solutions

All-Righty Then
 

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I think Stark nailed almost all the wrong points in his reply. He spent half of the mail enumarating how hideous M$ is and the wonders of Linux, when the point of the reply should have mainly be the free nature of the Linux and Open Source project, and the legal grounds behind it, and only on a secondary level explaining the long way that Linux has gone in usability. Aw well.
 

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I was laughing at both letters, though for different reasons. :lol:

By the way, there was an update to this posted back on Friday Here

It never was my intention to attack anyone personally....

My sights were set on correcting some obvious misconceptions. It was a focused attack on ignorance but with some unsolicited commentary on a particular group.

Whether by proxy or focused intent, it appears that is what has happened, however.

A particular teacher within the Austin Independent School District now sucks.

The consensus began building about 24 hours ago when I published a blog strongly chastising a teacher who emailed me. She made, what I considered to be, some amazingly ignorant statements, statements that I felt attacked the very core reason for my existence. It made me much angrier than it should have.

I'm human, so sue me.

No wait, scratch that last line...don't sue me. It is being discussed.

[...]

So boasting a stunning readership in the dozens, I go about my business writing about things that happen in our day to day operations. Every now and then, something or someone does or says something that I believe needs attention.

Holy Crap!

Well, we got attention. When I published a part of the email this Teacher sent me, it experienced something known as "The Slashdot Effect." Slashdot is a website devoted to the tech/internet world and is read by hundreds of thousands an hour.

Yeah...hundreds of thousands an hour. My article scolding this teacher ended up on the front page of Slashdot.

For whatever reason, this story took on a life of its own. By 10:30 AM, I had to turn my cell phone off. Poeple were getting my number from my business website and calling me with their comments and reactions.

[...]

"Why did you throw me to the wolves like that?"

I didn't even have to think of the reply.

"I didn't throw you to the wolves Karen, I threw ignorance to the wolves. Let me ask you something. If I had not emailed you a link to my blog, would you have even known about this?"

Again she hesitated. "What do you mean?"

"I mean that if you didn't know I had written that blog, would you have known about all these comments? Has anyone called you or bothered you about this? Have your co-workers mentioned it?"

"Well...no."

"Then the wolves didn't touch you Karen. If I had included your last name or email address, then yes, you could ask me that question but as it stands, you are just a nameless school teacher that evoked a public response from me."

She didn't say anything for several seconds. When she did, it was a quiet and simple:

"Thank you".

Yeah...thank you. Like I deserve that. Let me share a couple things with you here. First off, I want to sincerely apologize for some things I did say, things that were way off base and even if they were situationally true, they didn't add anything of value to the conversation.

[...]

Karen isn't alone in her ignorance. I have sat in a PhD's office...a PhD that happened to be a principal of a school. She told me that according to her "tech staff", it was illegal to remove Microsoft Windows from their school computers. So who is ignorant here? The "tech staffer" afraid of losing his MCSE position or the Dr. of Education that didn't bother to check into such a statement. Ignorance isn't the sole possession of this particular school teacher.

Karen and I have talked on the phone now for a couple of hours, here and there. We've come to understand each other more and had she said some of the things in her email that she said during our phone conversations...this black ink on white digital paper probably wouldn't exist.

And neither would over 2000 comments that were less than kind on one end of it and absolutely brutal on the other.

The student did get his Linux disks back after the class. The lad was being disruptive, but that wasn't mentioned. Neither was the obvious fact that when she saw a gaggle of giggling 8th grade boys gathered around a laptop, the last thing she expected to see on that screen was a spinning cube.

She didn't know what was on those disks he was handing out. It could have been porn, viral .exe's...any number of things for all she knew. When she heard that an adult had given him some of the disks to hand out, her spidey-senses started tingling. Coupled with the fact that she truly was ignorant of honest-to-goodness Free Software, and you have some fairly impressive conclusion-jumping.

In a couple of ways, I am guilty of it too.

Karen seems to be a good teacher, and as she stated to me today, she has learned more about the tech world in a few days than she's learned in five years.

That's because she's trapped in a world of Windows. Most people are.
The blog post is much longer, if you're interested...
 

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I think Stark nailed almost all the wrong points in his reply. He spent half of the mail enumarating how hideous M$ is and the wonders of Linux, when the point of the reply should have mainly be the free nature of the Linux and Open Source project, and the legal grounds behind it, and only on a secondary level explaining the long way that Linux has gone in usability. Aw well.
his reply is what i expect from a linux user; making it seem like hes superior since he uses linux and how he knows so much about microsoft's corruption.
its laughable.
 

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his reply is what i expect from a linux user; making it seem like hes superior since he uses linux and how he knows so much about microsoft's corruption.
its laughable.
While there are such people in the OS community, I hope that you are not trying to imply that that type conforms a majority. At least I'd feel offended :p

I agree. Linux is pretty much a "niche" OS on the x86 platform.
I could quote several reasons that might put this statement in question, howeer one of the most convincing ones is that both Dell and Lenovo both have a line of products that include Ubuntu Linux as the default operating system. I think Linux has gone a long way from niche to important minority in recent years
 

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HeliOS's reply:
The real reply:

Karen xxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxx Middle School
AISD

Hmmmm....

You're a stupid ****ing whore. I hope you die and get reincarnated into a creature that has a more functionable brain than you already have, such as a cockroach.


**** you very much for your time,
Ken Starks
HeliOS Solutions

All-Righty Then
 

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I think Stark nailed almost all the wrong points in his reply. He spent half of the mail enumarating how hideous M$ is and the wonders of Linux, when the point of the reply should have mainly be the free nature of the Linux and Open Source project, and the legal grounds behind it, and only on a secondary level explaining the long way that Linux has gone in usability. Aw well.
I totally agree. I also thought he was really just saying "Windows is bad and Linux" is good. Flip Microsoft and Linux around and suddenly you have the Microsoft motto: "Linux is bad and Windows" is good. Honestly each system has their own benefits.
 
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